‘I have a bit of a pointless obsession with finding the cheapest petrol available’

Me & My Money: David Leigh, artistic director of Pipeworks, the annual Organ and Choral Festival

Pipeworks artistic director David Leigh

Pipeworks artistic director David Leigh

 

Are you a saver or a spender?

With the exception of pensions, which I pay the maximum I can into, I’m a spender. 

Do you shop around for better value?

It very much depends on the product. I tend to be motivated by quality rather than price, even when buying everyday items like food, drink and clothes, but obviously if one can find the same product cheaper, so much the better. 

I have a bit of a pointless obsession with finding the cheapest petrol available, though, and will also go to inordinate lengths to find online deals for hotel rooms, flights, and ferries. Conversely, I’m pathologically lazy when it comes to shopping around for things like utilities and insurance. My default is simply to stay put even if I am aware of potential savings elsewhere.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

In recent times, it’s my Conway Stewart Churchill fountain pen, which cost a little over £500. I’m an avid user and collector of fountain pens, and that particular model was one I’d had my eye on for a while. The company is no longer in existence, which of course pushes values up. My piano was expensive but, given my profession, I don’t really consider that an extravagance.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

My car – a second-hand Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign, which new cost someone nearly €100,000. Thanks to depreciation, I paid a fraction of that for it. I played a long game to find one in first-class condition – even though its running costs are still steep, I’m enjoying the luxury car experience for a fraction of the cost of a new vehicle.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I try to favour local shops for food and I use online shopping mainly for flights, hotels, and so on, and also for music scores that may be obscure or difficult to obtain.

Do you haggle over prices?

No – except for the car!

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Hardly at all. I think that I was very fortunate in that my work was affected comparatively lightly compared to many, although salaries were frozen for a while and there was certainly a contraction in the amount of freelance work available. I have noticed, though, that it has become much more challenging to get audiences for concerts since the recession.

Do you invest in shares?

No. I am certainly not financially literate enough to make any attempt at it.

Cash or card?

Almost invariably card. Even in the world of freelance music these days, cash is almost unheard of, and even cheques are becoming a thing of the past. 

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

A score of Beethoven Symphonies for a course I worked on recently. In one sense, it was rotten value considering that the music is available free online, but I can’t quite commit myself to playing from a tablet yet. I prefer the physicality of a paper score.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

Yes – the aforementioned car. I was determined to buy outright and not be saddled with a big loan or PCP. 

Have you ever lost money?

In the sense of an unwise investment, no. Absent-mindedly using an ATM and walking off without removing the money? Yes! 

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

No. To quote C S Lewis, gambling is pretty much the only vice to which I feel absolutely no temptation at all.

Is money important to you?

In the sense of acquisition of wealth for its own sake, no. Anyone with that priority would be ill-advised to choose music as a profession. I would rather be busier and better off than at leisure and poorer, but the nature of my profession is that there are often very busy times, like now, and then very quiet times. I much prefer this to a job where one is averagely occupied the whole time.

How much money do you have on you now?

€23.76. That’s considerably more cash than usual.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea.

The Pipeworks Organ and Choral Festival takes place from June 19th to 23rd. www.pipeworks.ie

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